Cristina Sanders

Cristina Sanders is an historical fiction writer from Wellington, now living in Hawke's Bay. She has a book review blog and writes about history, travel and running. She began her career in the book trade in the Gateway Children's Bookshop and some years with Collins Publishers in NZ, Hodder & Stoughton in London and back to Booksellers New Zealand, followed by a business career. In 2018 she completed the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Whitireia.

Her debut novel, Jerningham, about Jerningham Wakefield and the recklessness of colonial New Zealand, was published by The Cuba Press in June 2020 and shortlisted for the NZ Heritage Literary Awards.

In 2020 she won the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for an unpublished YA manuscript, with a novel about immigrant families in the 1870s. This became Displaced, published by Walker Books in April 2021. Displaced was shortlisted for the NZ Heritage Literary Awards and was a finalist in NZCYA.

Mrs Jewell and the wreck of the General Grant, a story of shipwreck and survival, was published in June 2022 by The Cuba Press. It was shorlist for the Booklovers Award and is currently a finalist in the Ockhams for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction.


  • Adult Fiction
  • Feature Articles
  • Fiction
  • History
  • Web Writing
  • Young Adult


  • Editing
  • Novelist
  • Proofreading
  • Website Content


Central Districts


Havelock North



Edward Jerningham Wakefield was the wild-child of the Wakefield family that set up the New Zealand Company to bring the first settlers to this country. His story is told through the eyes of bookkeeper Arthur Lugg, who is tasked by Colonel William Wakefield to keep tabs on his brilliant but unstable nephew.

As trouble brews between settlers, government, missionaries and Māori over land and souls and rights, Jerningham is at the heart of it, blurring the line between friendship and exploitation and spinning the hapless Lugg in his wake.

Alive with historical detail, Jerningham tells a vivid and important story of Wellington’s colonial beginnings and of a charismatic young man’s rise and inevitable fall.

Published by The Cuba Press, June 2020


Winner of the 2020 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, Displaced is the story of  Eloise and her family, who must leave Cornwall on a treacherous sea journey to start a new life in 1870s colonial New Zealand. On the voyage Eloise meets Lars, a Norwegian labourer travelling below decks, and their lives begin to intertwine.

When her brother disappears, her father leaves and the family are left to fend for themselves in their new home, Eloise must find the strength to stand up for what she believes in and the people she loves.

Published by Walker Books April 2021

Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant

It’s 1866 and the three-masted sailing ship General Grant is on the southern route from Melbourne to London, with gold from the diggings secreted in returning miners’ hems and pockets. In the fog and the dark, the ship strikes the cliffs of the Auckland Islands, is sucked into a cave and wrecked.

Only fourteen men make it ashore and one woman – Mrs Jewell. Stuck on a freezing and exposed island, the castaways have to work together to stay alive, but they’re a disparate group with their own secrets to keep and their only officer is disabled by grief after losing his wife in the wreck. A woman is a burden they don’t need.

Meanwhile stories about the gold grow with the telling: who has it, where is it and how much went down with the ship.

Published by The Cuba Press 2022
Mrs Jewell and the wreck of the General Grant has been Longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2023, and shortlisted for NZ Booklovers Awards 2023.